Polaroid Postcards from Kyiv (4)

Dear ___ ,

Have I told you that this journey is different? I have decided to skip all the touristy spots in Kyiv, and left my camera at the hostel. The idea was just to enjoy Kyiv from a perspective of a local—and to spend more time connecting with people: just hanging around, laughing, talking, eating out. It was fun. It was a great fun.

From Couchsurfing, I met Kyryl and his lovely girlfriend Ieugenia.

They were such a cute couple! I had so much fun taking pictures of them both, because they were so kind and fun and affectionate and down-to-earth. They made jokes out of each other, yet you could clearly see the sparks of love in their eyes as they looked at each other (I was thinking of us when I saw them).

Together with my wonderful interpreter at TechCamp, Inna (right) and her friend Anna (left),

the five of us went for a stroll around Kyiv one lovely afternoon, practicing some Russian phrases along the way; and ended up in a small Sovyet-style diner with loads of magazines and books from the Sovyet era,

attacking a plate of Vereniki (a kind of dumpling that can be filled with mushroom, beef, chicken, etc., served with sour cream)

and drinking Kyiv’s local liqeur Hrenovuha—that was made of horseradish (smelled and tasted like one, too, with the after-effect resembling eating too much wasabi).

It was raining that evening, as we got out from the diner. Inna and Anna went back home, and I went with Kyryl and Ieugenia to Ieugenia’s apartment. “It’s a typical Sovyet apartment,” said Ieugenia. “All the apartments look the same, with the same furnitures, cupboards, stoves…”

We talked all night long on Ieugenia’s kitchen table, sipping cognac and eating melon; while listening to the government’s radio playing on the background. The cold wind was blowing from the open window and it was drizzling outside. It was such a wonderful time.

Earlier that week, at the hostel, I also met Francois—a Canadian who lives in London at the moment,

and Fransisco, a Brazilian who gets fascinated by my name and kept on teasing me when we bumped into each other (Hey, Hanny *wink* Can I call you Hanny? *wink*  Hello, Hanny *wink*) and we laughed out loud every time. “Sorry, I can’t help myself. I know, lame jokes, but I just love it!” he said.

With the boys and some other Ukrainian friends, we went for a bar-hopping experience in Kyiv one night, and ended up eating chicken soup at a restaurant and spent the rest of the night conversing as we walked back home.

On my last day in Kyiv, I met Natalya Kovalienko as I walked around the artsy stretch of Andriyivzkyy  in the morning. Natalya sells arts & crafts in a street stall. She is an artist; a painter—and she painted all of the souvenirs she offers: matryoshka dolls, fridge magnets, hair combs, mirrors, jewelry boxes…

In one of my letters, I told you how I was scared and nervous and anxious when I first traveling alone, because I was such an introverted shy girl, and I doubted myself a lot. I told you that often times, I wasn’t sure that I could, that I would make it. “But soon, I started to enjoy the feeling of being on my own: of making connections, of trusting people I have just met, of initiating a conversation with a total stranger,” I said.

And this was exactly how I met you. This was how you ended up in my letters and I ended up in yours. I am glad for now I can say that when it comes to us, I have no regret. No matter what awaits us in the future, we know that together, we’re awesome, and we’re great! See you in a couple of weeks!

xoxo,
H.

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